The nickname “Prince of Darkness” is usually attributed to a malevolent individual who causes mayhem, misery, and sorrow. This person is the embodiment of fear. Sometimes Satan is referred to as the “Prince of Darkness.” Jeremiah G. Hamilton would be given this moniker over several decades of staking his claim in New York’s financial world in the 19th century.
ROAD TO MILLIONS
Born in the very early 1800s, Jeremiah G. Hamilton arrived in New York City from Port-au-Prince in 1828. Prior to entering more legit business circles, he smuggled counterfeit currency from Canada and U.S into Haiti. Hamilton was sentenced to be shot in Haiti with a $300 bounty on his head. As it would turn out he had since left for New York.
Upon reaching the U.S, Hamilton set about making his fortune. This was New York City in late 1820s-1830s. Business men and socialites were making moves and people striving to reach those heights were putting it all on the table. Depending on your approach they were either potential business partners or marks. For Hamilton, it was a little from column A and a lot from column B.
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, Hamilton made his millions as a Wall Street broker. He was given the nickname “Prince of Darkness” after breaking into New York’s White social and financial circles of influence.
His financial sense and tactic of selling to White people thus parting them from their money, he was viewed as a predatory invader. Several major influencers in business took Hamilton to court and one of the only people to continue taking him on in court was railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. Hamilton also pursued others in court aggressively.
Also as a result of his aggressive business approach and flaunting of social courtesies of the day, he was given the nickname “N****r Hamilton.” What’s also interesting about of this is the means by which many of the White business men of the time also made their wealth by steamrolling the poor and putting them in the worst of working conditions.
LATER LIFE OF JEREMIAH G. HAMILTON
This perception of him was made even more “threatening” to the White establishment of the time as he was married a White woman, Eliza Morris, who had his first child at 13 or 14. This would be multiplied as the Civil War broke out.
During the New York Draft Riots in 1863 and there was one situation where a lynch mob hunted for him. A neighbor investigated the ruckus and one person told him that they planned to hang him from one of the light posts in town. While breaking into this strata would’ve made him a hero, there were some influential Black people who had reservations about Hamilton’s focus on making money at any costs.
By the time of his death is 1875, Jeremiah G. Hamilton would be valued at $2 million or around $250 million today. This gave him the other nickname “The Richest Black Man in America” at the time.